Thursday, 15 July 2010

Insect celebrates French Revolution - Reuters



July 14th is a national holiday in France and there are firework displays everywhere. They're often staggered around the 14th, partly because firework engineers can't be everywhere at once and partly so that, as in our case, people from one village can enjoy neighbouring villages' fireworks on consecutive nights.

Ours was on the 13th. The village we live in, with its mediaeval tower and bridge, is a superb backdrop for firework displays. We went out for a meal with M (who took this splendid photo) and Mme Hector to a terrace restaurant which overlooks the bridge, the river and the village rising behind it, a super vantage point for watching the display. In the event we got rather more pyrotechnics than we bargained for.

Firework photos are two a penny, so I won't bore you with those. However the end, the finale, of the display was marked by what they call l'embrasement, the burning, of the bridge and tower. It's all done with red flares. All very lurid and diabolical.

It was over by 11.30. Our half-mile walk home was unexpectedly interrupted by a small forest fire in a pinewood just the other side of the valley. Most forest and heath fires start by the roadside, but as there was no path or track nearby we could only assume that a rocket stick or something similar from the village display had fallen in the tinder-dry pinewood and . . . we'd hardly uttered these ideas before the first fire engine appeared, followed at short intervals by five more.

There wasn't much to see, so we walked on home. By the time J. and I got in, all of five minutes later, the fire was out. They don't hang about, these fire crews. So I've no photo of this, but as a small consolation here's a photo of a forest fire across the valley from a year or two ago, when a vast area of wooded mountainside caught fire. Terrifying, especially if the wind's blowing in your direction. The most effective fire-fighting in areas inaccessible by road is done by aircraft, but they can't of course fly at night. (It was put out the next day.)


Even so the night's pyrotechnics weren't over. Climbing up the steps from the road to the house I noticed this tiny green light shining on a stone in the wall. We see these lights now and again in summer, but they're not very common. It was too feeble to photograph without flash and I don't have a long-exposure tripod, so here it is by flashlight, in the middle of the biggest stone. If you enlarge it you can see it better. It's a glowworm. No doubt it was celebrating the capture of the Bastille as well.


13 comments:

Charlene said...

Your fireworks display sounds lovely. Here neighbors begin setting off rockets a week before and then every night until and past the 4th of July. They stop when they run out of rockets. It sounds like gunfire.

On the Ohio river front there are massive fireworks. A hundred thousand people who can't or won't get out of town to a lake for hte holiday, drink beer and stand butt to front for hours to watch 10 minutes of explosives worthy of a world war.

Geoff said...

When I was a teenager we called our ten pin bowling team The Glow Worms. But I have never seen one in the flesh.

Rog said...

Quoi pensez les chiens?

Sarah said...

An ancestor of ours (Gabriel Maturin) was incarcerated in the Bastille for 26 years!

I love fireworks.....wheeeeeee

Dave said...

I had something to write about flashguns and glow-worms, but the door knocker sounded (it was a person from Porlock) and when I returned my mind was blank.

Christopher said...

Charlene: Yes, you would have enjoyed the display as much as the meal. (Ask Cynthia - she's been there too, but not on firework night yet.)

Geoff: I notice that the males twist their undersides round so that females are attracted by the fire in their bellies. This may apply to other species.

Rog: Ay, there's the rub, as my friend Mme Frot would say.

Sah: I need time to consider the import of this stunning revelation. (Maturin, that is, not your love of fireworks.) I will be back.

Dave: Was it that damsel with a dulcimer again? The one with the honeydew melons? Why can't she stop leaving you alone?

Dave said...

I think it's a side-effect of living in a stately pleasure-dome, with gardens bright with sinuous rills,
where blossom many an incense-bearing tree.

Christopher said...

This writing thing seems to have perked up your creative powers no end, Dave. But you will go easy on the laudanum, won't you?

Sah (again): Worried man here: I see the heraldic anagram of Maturin is 'minatur'. We shall all have to watch our step or we may end up in the Bastille of your displeasure.

Dave said...

As it happens, Chris, I have been taking pills for kidney-stome pain the last couple of days. And (as the photo yesterday shows) I have opium poppies in my garden.

Hmmm...

Christopher said...

Sorry about the kidney-stone pain. I understand it's even worse than earache suffered as a child. Nothing better than opiates, tho' apparently even sniffing at opium poppies (not a pleasant scent, in any case) can bring on acute constipation. And life's demanding enough without Sarah threatening us, isn't it?

I, Like The View said...

when I was in Normandy on my French exchange visits, some of the young people used to scuff glow worms under foot as we walked along of an evening

made a nice pattern on the path but probably wasn't a very productive activity for the glow worms

(I never understood why we don't see them in England on the south coast, if they are present in France on the north coast)

Christopher said...

This is indeed a mystery. I can only suspect that seawater puts their fire out, and as this is an essential prerequisite of glow-worm reproduction any cross-Channel expeditions have been abandoned. There may be other reasons - I understand there are marked differences between the fauna and flora on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon. I'm sure Spadoman will have chapter and verse for such things.

mig said...

I used to see glow-worms in Devon forty odd years ago. I believe there was a theory that light pollution interfered with their sex life.